[Source: pinterest.com]

2023 NDAA represents swan song in Senate of a long-time stalwart of the radical right

The ghosts of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan must be looking down with pride on their devoted acolyte, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, known as “the hawk’s hawk.” He recently succeeded in pushing through a $45 billion addition to the latest military budget that brings its total to a staggering $850 billion.

[Source: twitter.com]

Inhofe has been in the Senate for 28 years, 27 of which he spent on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he was able to thank the weapons manufacturers who donated millions to his political campaigns by stuffing their pockets with billions of dollars in military weapons contracts.

[Source: twitter. com]

But Inhofe is now retiring, and to honor him, and his success in pushing the size of America’s defense budget into Guinness World Records territory, his colleagues on the Armed Services Committee unanimously voted to name the new military budget The James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2023.

The NDAA includes $30 billion to develop new nuclear weapons to destroy humankind and for the Pentagon to acquire more of Lockheed Martin’s F-35s, Joint Strike Fighter jets designed to carry both conventional and nuclear weapons.

[Source: nationalpriorities.org]

The NDAA also includes $6 billion—a $1 billion increase from last year—for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to threaten China with armed ground-based cruise, ballistic, and hypersonic missiles—hastening the prospects of World War III.

Inhofe’s Baby

Considered a successful mayor of Tulsa (1978-1984), who ran a bond campaign to finance the damming of the Arkansas River, Inhofe first entered state government in 1967 when he took up the seat in the Oklahoma legislature replacing Dewey Bartlett Sr., an oilman and ally of Richard Nixon.[1]

Popular among his constituents because of his conservative positions on “God, guns, and gays.” Inhofe said he was most inspired by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, heroes of the New Right, who sought to cut government social programs while ramping up military spending in the Cold War (both Goldwater and Reagan were superhawks on Vietnam).

Then Tulsa Mayor James Inhofe meeting with President Ronald Reagan at a White House meeting with republican Mayors in January 1982. [Source: commons.wikimedia.org]

Inhofe himself served in the U.S. Army in the 1950s before the Vietnam War broke out. In the last five years alone, he has received more than half a million dollars in campaign contributions from the defense, aerospace and oil and gas industries, which profit from high military budgets.

Inhofe elected to U.S. Senate
Inhofe with his wife Kay during his first U.S. Senate race in 1994. [Source: tulsaworld.com]

Oklahoma has six military bases, and the Department of Defense is the state’s largest employer.

In 2018, Inhofe was found to have purchased tens of thousands of dollars in Raytheon stock just a week after he lobbied the Trump administration to increase military spending to record levels.

Inhofe Press Office (@InhofePress) / Twitter
James Inhofe shakes hands with American soldiers. [Source: twitter.com]

Inhofe claims that $850 billion is needed in the NDAA to counter the “Chinese Communist Party accelerating the already historic modernization of its military,” and “Russia continuing to destabilize security in Europe,” along with “record-high inflation jeopardizing our buying power.”

According to Inhofe, “Congress must do everything we can to give our military every advantage on the battlefield.”

It is not clear, however, what battlefield Inhofe is talking about—except future ones the U.S. intends to establish by encircling China and Russia militarily and provoking them into unnecessary wars.

Further Militarizing Foreign Policy

Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of 101 House members to vote against the NDAA, said that at a time Americans are “struggling with the soaring cost of basic items like food and housing, when Republicans are blocking investments in basic needs like health care, we should not be voting on a defense bill that doles out a record-shattering $800+ billion to the Pentagon.”

Omar added that “this bill will only further militarize foreign policy, lining the pockets of defense contractors while inevitably costing the lives of innocent people around the world. Despite an amendment I introduced, it blocks humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, further militarizes the Middle East and Indo-Pacific, and continues weapons sales to some of the most heinous human rights abusers in the world.”

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar [Source: politico.com]


Jason Crow [Source: wikipedia.org]

Chillingly, the NDAA includes a provision from Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) that would establish a National Space Guard—a further step in the militarization of Outer Space.

$800 million is budgeted for security assistance to Ukraine, including $100 million for training Ukrainian pilots and ground crews so they become familiarized with American aircraft.

General Stephen Townsend giving speech in front of AFRICOM headquarters in Germany. He has more to be smiling about with the new NDAA. [Source: africa.cgtn.com]

Additional lowlights of the NDAA include:

The US tested a mystery hypersonic missile in July
Hypersonic missile. [Source: defence-blog.com]
Colombians march against Plan Colombia. [Source: theguardian.com]

Warped Priorities—and a Lack of Pushback

While the U.S. Senate was putting the final touches on the 2023 NDAA, teachers in Little Rock, Arkansas, rallied in front of their State Capitol building demanding a living wage.

Arkansas educators gather at state capitol, plea for better pay | thv11.com
Arkansas teachers rally for better salaries at State Capitol building. [Source: thv11.com]

The average teacher’s salary in Arkansas is a paltry $36,000, which is only slightly above Inhofe’s home state of Oklahoma.

The latter figures underscore Ilhan Omar’s point about warped spending priorities, which has been a hallmark of James Inhofe’s political career and the New Right movement from which he came.

  1. Inhofe worked in aviation and became President of Quaker Life Insurance. When he ran for public office, he claimed to have graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1959 but actually only received his degree in 1973—before he ran for governor—when he did some independent studies. A professor in the sociology department at the University of Tulsa in the 1950s who was friendly with Inhofe’s sister told me that Inhofe was a poor student who came from a prominent family; he could not pass her class.

CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

Click the whistle and donate

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your gift is tax-deductible for federal income purposes. CAI’s tax-exempt ID number is 87-2461683.

We sincerely thank you for your support.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at info@CovertActionMagazine.com. For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: info@CovertActionMagazine.com.

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.

About the Author


  1. […] Inhofe worked in aviation and became President of Quaker Life Insurance. When he ran for public office, he claimed to have graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1959 but actually only received his degree in 1973—before he ran for governor—when he did some independent studies. A professor in the sociology department at the University of Tulsa in the 1950s who was friendly with Inhofe’s sister told me that Inhofe was a poor student who came from a prominent family; he could not pass her class. ↑ […]

  2. Inhofe and his fan club hastening the descent of the United States into the abyss. Nothing is weaker than a nation without basic infrastructure and citizens who don’t have homes, enough to eat, education, and something better than the garbage we call health care.

Leave a Reply